Raytheon has completed all operational test drops of its new StormBreaker smart weapon, bringing it one step closer to achieving initial operational capability.
Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice-president Kim Ernzen said: “All operating modes of StormBreaker have been rigorously tested in operationally-relevant scenarios against real-world targets in environments that are similar to actual battlefield conditions.
“With its tri-mode seeker and datalink, this smart weapon will close a capability gap and make adverse weather irrelevant.”
In normal mode, the tri-mode seeker uses infrared imaging (mode one) and millimetre wave radar (mode two) to help fighter pilots hit moving targets from standoff ranges and in bad climatic conditions. A tertiary mode employs semi-active laser guidance technologies to hit targets.
The Raytheon StormBreaker smart weapon programme was designed for use by the US Air Force (USAF), which required a better way to enhance its warfighters’ capabilities against adversaries in bad visual conditions.
The tri-mode seeker can detect targets through battlefield dust and debris and give pilots a clear image despite conditions in the air or on the ground.
Raytheon said that the smart weapon can fly more than 45 miles to hit a target, which means that pilots can fire the weapon at a safer distance. It is also saves money through reduced flying times and the need for fewer attacks.
Operational testing is now complete on the smart weapon and integration work is already underway. The USAF and the US Navy are attempting to use the StormBreaker with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.
In April 2018, Raytheon successfully incorporated the StormBreaker onto a Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle.